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M'Liss (1918, Mary Pickford, Thomas Meighan)

M'Liss is a 1918 silent film directed by Marshall Neilan, written by Frances Marion and based on a Bret Harte's story. The film was made previously in 1915 and was remade again in 1922 as The Girl Who Ran Wild, starring Gladys Walton. Another same-titled remake was released in 1936, starring Anne Shirley.


The film takes place in the mining town of Red Gulch in the High Sierra. M'Liss (Mary Pickford) is one of the inhabitants whose father 'Bummer' (Theodore Roberts) lost his fortune in the gold mines. Now his only investment, which pays a dividend, is his chicken Hildegarde. M'Liss regards herself as a crook and robs Yuba Bill's stage coach. Yuba, however, is fascinated by the young lady and doesn't mind.

M'Liss is the only person in 'Bummer's life, since his brother Jonathan, a wealthy pioneer, lives in San Francisco. One day, Jonathan turns his face toward the Sunset Trail. Clara Peterson (Winifred Goodwin) has been his nurse for over three years and her brother Jim (Val Paul) finds out they will receive $500 each for their services after his death. He is outraged they will get only that small amount of money.

Charles Gray (Thomas Meighan) is the school teacher who wants M'Liss to go to school as well. M'Liss isn't interested in an education. Charles keeps on pursuing her and she finally decides to go. He demands her to mind her manners when she's at school. She talks back to the boards members and is expelled. Charles, however, is charmed by the brave young girl. That same day, 'Bummer' gets stabbed in the back by an unknown person. The sheriff suspects Charles, since he was the last person to visit 'Bummer'.

When M'Liss is informed, she is crushed. She is invited to visit the murderer in jail and is shocked to find out it's Charles. Three weeks later, a murder trial starts. M'Liss is the only one believing in Charles' innocence. His wife Clara reaches town to visit him, only to find out he died. M'Liss refuses to believe she is her mother. Finally, Charles is sent to jail for 60 years. M'Liss helps him escape, but the police follow him. M'Liss witnesses them shooting Charles, but doesn't know they went after the wrong guy and actually shot Jim. Jim and Mexican Joe, the help of the sheriff, admit they killed 'Bummer' for his will. The fortune is now send to M'Liss and a hidden Charles is set free and reunites with M'Liss.

Mary Pickford - Melissa 'M'liss' Smith
Theodore Roberts - John Benson 'Bummer' Smith
Thomas Meighan - Charles Gray
Tully Marshall - Judge Joshua McSnagley
Charles Ogle - Yuba Bill
Monte Blue - Mexican Joe Dominguez
Winifred Greenwood - Clara Peterson
Helen Kelly - Clytemnestra Veronica McSnagley
Val Paul - Jim Peterson
William H. Brown - Sheriff Sandy Waddles
John Burton - Parson Bean
Charles A. Post - Butch Saunders
Guy Oliver - Snakebit Saunders

Run time 72 minutes 55 seconds
Audio/Visual silent, color


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